Ashok Leyland is an Indian automobile company headquartered in Chennai, India. It is owned by the Hinduja Group.
Founded in 1948, it is the second largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in India, fourth largest manufacturer of buses in the world and 10th largest manufacturer of trucks globally.
Operating nine plants, Ashok Leyland also makes spare parts and engines for industrial and marine applications.
WATCH VIDEO : History of Ashok Leyland and A Dream of A Father
Ashok Motors was founded in 1948 by Raghunandan Saran. He is an Indian freedom fighter from Punjab. After Independence, he was persuaded by India’s first Prime Minister Nehru to invest in a modern industrial venture.
Ashok Motors was incorporated in 1948 as a company to assemble and manufacture Austin cars from England, and the company was named after the founder’s only son, Ashok Saran.
The company had its headquarters in Rajaji Saalai, Chennai (then Madras) with the plant in Ennore, a small fishing hamlet in the North of Chennai. The company was engaged in the assembly and distribution of Austin A40 passenger cars in India.
Raghunandan Saran had previously negotiated with Leyland Motors of England for assembly of commercial vehicles as he envisioned commercial vehicle were more in need at that time than were passenger cars.
The company later under Madras State Government and other shareholders finalised for an investment and technology partner, and thus Leyland Motors joined in 1954 with equity participation, changing the name of the company to Ashok Leyland. Ashok Leyland then started manufacturing commercial vehicles.
Under Leyland’s management with British expatriate and Indian executives the company grew in strength to become one of India’s foremost commercial vehicle manufacturers.
The collaboration ended sometime in 1975 but the holding of British Leyland, now a major British Auto Conglomerate as a result of several mergers, agreed to assist in technology, which continued until the 1980s. After 1975, changes in management structures saw the company launch various vehicles in the Indian market, with many of these models continuing to this day with numerous upgrades over the years.
Under Iveco and Hinduja partnership
In 1987, the overseas holding by Land Rover Leyland International Holdings Limited (LRLIH) was taken over by a joint venture between the Hinduja Group, the Non-Resident Indian transnational group and Iveco, part of the Fiat Group.
In 2007, the Hinduja Group also bought out Iveco’s indirect stake in Ashok Leyland. The promoter shareholding now stands at 51%. Today the company is the flagship of the Hinduja Group, a British-based and Indian originated trans-national conglomerate.
Ashok Leyland Defence Systems
Ashok Leyland Defence Systems (ALDS) is a newly floated company by the Hinduja Group. Ashok Leyland, the flagship company of Hinduja group, holds 26 percent in the newly formed Ashok Leyland Defence Systems (ALDS). The company has a mandate to design and develop defence logistics and tactical vehicles, defence communication and other systems. Ashok Leyland is the largest supplier of logistics vehicles to the Indian Army. It has supplied over 60,000 of its Stallion vehicles, all manufactured at the Vehicle Factory Jabalpur (VFJ), which form the Army’s logistics backbone.
It was the first in India to introduce multi-axled trucks, full air brakes and innovations like the rear engine and articulated buses. In 1997, the company launched the country’s first CNG bus, and in 2002 developed the first hybrid electric vehicle.
Ashok Leyland was already producing low-emission vehicles. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Ashok Leyland with various Tamil Nadu Transport Corporation, notably Cholan Roadways Corporation based in Trichripally, experimented with low pollutant emission based on the CNG technology. In 2002 it developed the first hybrid electric vehicle. Ashok Leyland has also launched a mobile emission clinic that operates on highways and at entry points to New Delhi. The clinic checks vehicles for emission levels, recommends remedies and offers tips on maintenance and care. This work will help generate valuable data and garner insight that will guide further development.
- Ennore, Tamil Nadu in North Chennai (established 1948) – trucks, buses, engines, axles etc.
- Hosur, Tamil Nadu in Krishnagiri District (established 1980) – three adjacent plants (Hosur-1, Hosur-2, CPPS) for trucks, special vehicles and power units
- Alwar, Rajasthan (established 1982) – bus manufacturing unit
- Bhandara, Maharashtra (established 1982) – gearbox unit
- Pantnagar, Uttarakhand (etsb. 2010) – 75,000 annual capacity greenfield unit for new generation platforms and cabs
- Sengadu Village, Kanchipuram District in Tamil Nadu (etsb. 2008) – technical and production facility for Ashok Leyland Defence Systems; another separate technical center for Nissan Ashok Leyland vehicles
- Sherburn-in-Elmet, England – Optare Bus
- Ras Al Khaimah, UAE [established 2011] – bus manufacturing facility – joint venture between Ashok Leyland and Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA) in UAE
Ashok Leyland’s Technical Centre, at Vellivoyalchavadi (VVC) in the outskirts of North Chennai near Minjur, is a state-of-the-art product development facility, that apart from modern test tracks and component test labs, also houses India’s one and only six poster testing equipment.